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NEWS 7.5.22: Severe Weather Risk, 4th of July Drownings, Nebraska Medical Marijuana Measure in Jeopardy, Smithfield Pork Settlement, and Black Hills Tourism

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National Weather Service/Sioux Falls Office
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Most of the state of Iowa is under a heat advisory today, while parts of eastern Iowa are under an excessive heat warning.

Officials tell Radio Iowa far northwest Iowa is at moderate risk with a level of four out of five for severe weather. Part of the region is under a severe thunderstorm watch as well. An enhanced risk is three out of five for the rest of Siouxland. The biggest threat could come from heavy thunderstorms and high winds.

Authorities in northwest Iowa responded to two Fourth of July tragedies.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim of a drowning that happened on Monday afternoon.

According to a news release, 19-year-old Aldo Tomas-DeLeon of Rock Valley was swimming in a pond one mile north of town when he disappeared in the water.

KCAU news reports that dive teams from the region recovered the body of another drowning victim this morning in Calhoun County. The 25-year-old man was swimming yesterday afternoon when he went missing. His name wasn’t released, but the local sheriff says he lived in the area and was spending the day at the beach with friends at Twin Lakes.

Smithfield Foods will pay restaurants and caterers $42 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the giant meat producer of conspiring to inflate pork prices. Lawyers began notifying companies affected by the settlement Tuesday. Earlier this year, JBS agreed to pay $52.5 million to settle a similar beef price-fixing lawsuit, but several cases remain pending against other major meat producers. The lawsuits add to concerns about how the lack of competition in the industry affects prices.

Organizers of a medical marijuana legalization campaign in Nebraska say they're in danger of missing their signature goal to qualify for the November general election ballot. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana says it still needs to gather thousands of signatures ahead of Thursday’s submission deadline set by the state.

The campaign suffered a major blow when one of its top donors died, forcing organizers to rely primarily on volunteers. The campaign needs valid signatures from 7% of Nebraska’s registered voters, roughly 87,000 voters, to appear on the ballot. Voters would decide in November whether to legalize the drug for medical uses. Some prominent elected officials, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, remain firmly opposed to legalization and have actively fought the measure.

A new report shows 3.6 million visitors to Black Hills area national parks in South Dakota spent about $231 million in 2021. That had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $301 million and resulted in about 3,360 jobs. The analysis was done by economists at the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Area national parks include Badlands National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Wind Cave National Park. Overall, the report shows $20.5 billion of direct spending by more than 297 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.